No “I” in Team" />
The official student newspaper of The Hockaday School

The Fourcast

The official student newspaper of The Hockaday School

The Fourcast

The official student newspaper of The Hockaday School

The Fourcast

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No “I” in Team

Club swimmers weigh the benefits of adding Hockaday swimming during the winter months

Junior Carolyn rises many winter mornings at 5 a.m. to a drowsy drive followed by the chlorine stench of the Hockaday swimming pool.

But she hasn’t considered trading these days away, even though the emphasis of her swimming career lies in her highly competitive, year-round club team, the Academy of Texas Aquatic Champions.

Carolyn continues to squeeze Hockaday Varsity Swimming into her packed schedule,
because in the world of club swimming, teammates share little more than the same coach and the same pattern on their swimsuits.

“In club swimming, people don’t really cheer each other on, but high school swimming has a lot of that,” Carolyn said. “I enjoy that high school swimming has much more of a team aspect.”

Only four girls on the 42-member Hockaday team also have club commitments. In general, club swimmers are allowed to skip Hockaday’s afternoon practices, but they still participate in the twice weekly morning practices, two meets a week and the team dinners. That’s on top of their club responsibilities, which include more than 12 hours of swimming on weekdays, full weekend meets and Sunday practices.

A meet at St. Mark’s on Jan. 12 illustrated the encouraging atmosphere that Carolyn
described. As she clenched the edge of the diving block in lane two and waited for the bleeeep to signal the start of her 500 yard freestyle race, five Hockaday swimmers clustered around Carolyn to administer words of encouragement. Standing poised to begin screaming for her, Carolyn’s teammates were just as eager as she was for the race to begin. As soon as she finished the 500 yards, they all shared hugs and high fives.

Like Carolyn, junior Kaitlin prefers sleeping only a few hours a night to dropping either her spot on the Dallas Mustangs team or the Hockaday team. Even while pushing through a sustaining shoulder injury this fall, Kaitlin continued to attend practices for both teams in addition to physical therapy sessions several times a week.

She finds value in both the club and school environments. The quick succession of meets during the high school season gives her more experience racing, and the less intense practices allow her to focus on technique.

“Even though it’s not as prestigious, high school swimming gives you a chance to work on what you need to do in your races,” Kaitlin said.

Doug Moyse, who coaches both the Dallas Mustangs and the Cistercian varsity swim
team, said he supports Kaitlin’s participation in varsity swimming because of the additional coaching perspective and practice time it presents.

“It gives them another time in the water, so I definitely recommend it,” Moyse said. “The only disadvantage is to get up at 5 a.m. in the morning when you were up until 1 or 2 a.m. finishing your homework.”

As the Cistercian coach, Moyse noted that allowing club swimmers to miss afternoon
varsity practices frees him to give more attention to the non-club swimmers.

Jake, a junior on both the Cistercian varsity swim team and the Dallas Mustangs club team, said that, like the Hockaday swimmers experience, both his school and club coaches cooperate with his schedule.

“[Coach] Moyse definitely understands,” Jake said. “A lot of high school coaches make you go to all the club and high school practices, but he’s been really good about only making me go two times a week plus meets.”

While highly competitive athletes such as Carolyn, Kaitlin and Jake, all of whom aspire to swim at the collegiate level, manage to mesh both club and varsity swimming, sophomore Kendall wishes to focus solely on her close bond with the varsity team. She quit her club team freshman year to swim exclusively for Hockaday.

“I liked club, but I think that the team dynamic is a lot better at Hockaday, because club swimming is so much more individual. When you’re swimming with school, it’s about being on relays and cheering your teammates on,” she said.

Although Hockaday Varsity Swimming Head Coach Bobby Patten recognizes that releasing club swimmers from afternoon practices takes away in part from the team dynamic mentioned by Kenall, he believes it is a necessary sacrifice.

“Sometimes it’s a challenge because when you aren’t there, you’re going to miss things,” he said. “But it’s going to make them better swimmers [to do both], because they’re doing it year round. There’s a lot more training time—many, many, many more hours.”

Like Patten, Hockaday Athletic Director Tina Slinker supports athletes who participate on both club and Hockaday teams.

“Instead of dropping their [varsity] sport, because they love Hockaday, they are trying to maintain both,” she said. “I think we should try to support them in every way.”

Slinker also believes that the lasting friendships among varsity athletes add a unique value to school sports.

“On a club team, you won’t be going to school with your team members and sharing
that and growing together,” she said. “And when you graduate and come back to Hockaday 10 years later, there are your teammates. You just don’t get that playing club.”

– Hailey

 

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